25 May 2000, Monaco, France
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you
I am happy to be with you tonight at the first Laureus World Sports Award. Sport has the power to change the world. [applause] It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.
The heroes standing with me are examples of this power. They are valiant not only in the playing field, but also in the community, both local and international. They are champions and they deserve the world’s recognition.
Together they represent an active, vigorous Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame that goes out into the world, spreading help, inspiration and hope.
Their legacy will be an international community where the rules of the game are the same for everyone, and behaviour is guided by fair play and good sportsmanship. I ask you now to rise and join me in commending the original inductees into the World Sports Academy Hall of Fame.
It is now my great pleasure to present a very special Laureus award - the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award - given to a world athlete who exemplifies the highest virtue of sport, honour, courage, joy and perseverance. Our first honouree is a man who is both an athlete for the ages and a beacon of hope for the millions.
He began life in poverty and rose to the highest level of fame. To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full.
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my honour to present the inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Edson Arantes do Nascimento or as he is known to world - Pele.
Pele is in Rome tonight to join with other world soccer stars in an international football match for peace.
Thank you very much Mr Mandela. It is a big honour to me to receive this award. And I want to thank also to World Sports Academy for this. Everybody knows I am in Roma. We are here for the peace in the world. Beautiful event, beautiful game. One more time - thank you Mr Mandela , thank you every body for that.
Congratulations to the great Pele. You are an enduring model for all athletes. In fact, for all of us, to admire and emulate. Thank you and good evening.